Newsroom

Posted by Rob

Finding the Best Talent

In my previous role, I was given the opportunity to build my first team.  I inherited a team of three and, as our team’s services became more popular, I grew the team to 22.  This meant that, in a relatively short period of time, I wrote about 20 job descriptions, reviewed about 1,000 résumés, conducted about 200 interviews, hired about 30 people, and then observed the results.  I’ll tell you upfront that not all of my hires worked out, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  I learned some valuable lessons, which I’ve attempted to summarize below in the form of hiring Do’s and Don’ts.

How to Hire

DO revisit the job description.  If you are backfilling an existing position, treat it as a blank canvas.  We are all creatures of habit, so it is tempting to dust off the departing employee’s job description and post it.  Don’t do this.  Organizations are living, evolving entities.  The competencies you hired for five years ago reflected the needs of an organization that no longer exists.  What do you need now?  What do you think you’ll need five years into the future?  Write a job description that encompasses the organization as it exists today and as you want it to evolve.

DO use behavioral interview questions.  I use them almost exclusively.  To construct one, start with the end in mind.  Let’s say the role you’re hiring for will require a high stress tolerance.  How do you find out, in an interview setting, whether or not the candidate can handle the type of stress you envision them encountering on the job?  Ask them to describe their most stressful work day.  Then ask them what made it stressful.  How did they respond?  What difficult decisions did they make?  What worked?  What didn’t work?  What would they do differently?  If the candidate answers all of those questions with some specificity, you will have a good sense of (a) their stress tolerance, (b) their ability to think on their feet, (c) how they make decisions and (d) their ability to reflect on and learn from their mistakes.  Not bad for one line of questioning.

DO be persistent.  As the interviewer, you are looking for specific, believable responses.  If the candidate glosses over something, ask him or her to go back and tell you more about it.  Be persistent.  I’ve asked candidates the same question five times.  It can feel awkward.  If the candidate can’t be more specific, or the specifics he/she provides sound contrived, they probably are.  A made-up answer is much worse than no answer.  Respect the candidate who says she can’t think of a past experience that matches your question, but who offers an experience that is somewhat similar.  Disqualify the candidate who provides an obviously made-up answer and count yourself lucky; you were able to discover that the candidate is deceitful during the interview process, rather than after you hired him.

DO remember that everyone sees the candidate from his or her unique vantage point.  One interviewer will be assessing the candidate as a potential direct report.  Another interviewer will be considering the candidate as a peer.  Still other interviewers will be thinking about the candidate as their potential new boss.  And if you have included more senior-level interviewers on your team, they may be evaluating the candidate as a potential successor to you.  As much as we might try to focus only on the candidate vis-à-vis the competencies called for in the job description, it’s impossible to avoid projecting what your own working relationship with the candidate would be like.  So if, for example, you love a candidate who would become your second-in-charge because of her track record of getting things done no matter the challenges, but your team wants nothing to do with her, it might be because the candidate tramples over peers and subordinates in order to achieve her goals.  As the boss, you care most about her ability to get things done; those she would manage care most about not becoming roadkill.  If you find wildly differing assessments of a candidate across your interview team, try to understand the “why” behind their assessments.  It’s probably about perspective.

DO stay disciplined.  After carefully constructing a job description that reflects the organization’s needs, selecting candidates to interview based on how closely they match the job description, and spending the bulk of the interview time determining, through behavioral questions, the candidates’ demonstrable possession of those competencies, I am amazed how often interview teams get together to share their observations and resort to judging candidates based on “likability” factors.  “Candidate A was really easy to talk to.”  “Candidate B really seemed to care about what we do.”  Unless “easy to talk to” is a competency in the job description, put it aside.  Similarly, seeming to care is easy to fake and impossible to validate.  Don’t lose your discipline at this final, and most critical, phase of the hiring process.  To avoid this pitfall, write the competencies from the job description on a whiteboard and have the interview team rate the candidates specifically and only on their aptitude in these competencies as demonstrated during their interview.  If someone’s rating seems anomalous to the group, facilitate a discussion to understand the justification for the rating.  Did it come from some specific response or behavior in the interview, or is the interviewer projecting? 

DO focus, most of all, on culture.  Every team has a culture.  If your team’s culture is wonderful, hire people that fit into it.  If you are trying to change your team’s culture, hire people that have the culture you aspire to and support them so they don’t get frustrated and leave or, worse, adopt the existing culture and stay.

DO avoid the “rebound” candidate.  Most interviewers only cursorily ask why a candidate is interested in the role.  It’s often an introductory question to get everyone warmed up and the candidate’s answer is not critically assessed.  I once made a hiring mistake that could have been avoided had I paid more attention to a candidate’s answer to this question.  This (internal) candidate talked about wanting to remain in the organization because she believed in its mission.  She claimed to be interested in the work my team did and said she looked forward to working directly with customers.  All of this sounded fine, but I should have probed further to see if the candidate could demonstrate this with examples from her past.  As it turned out, the candidate was not running toward my job, but away from her current job, where she was in a feud with a co-worker and extremely unhappy.  For a short time she performed well, happy to be in a healthier environment, but she soon grew unhappy when she realized she didn’t really want to do the type of work my team was responsible for; it merely seemed attractive because she so desperately wanted to escape.  This is the main value of taking the “why are interested in this job” question seriously:  To determine if the candidate really wants to be on your team in your role, or if they are merely desperate to get away from their current role.

How NOT to Hire

DON’T stuff a job description full of “duties.”  Duties render work into its least interesting form - chores.  Also, duties are volatile, or ought to be in a healthy organization, meaning your job description will be out-of-date within a few months.  Instead of duties, write down the role you want this person to play in the organization and talk about the responsibilities he or she will have.  “You will keep it all on track, ensuring that complex projects are delivered on time and under budget.”  “You will be responsible for maintaining our library’s reputation for compelling, interactive children’s literacy programs.”  Playing a role and being responsible are much more inspiring ways to view work than completing a list of chores.

DON’T lose sight of the forest through the trees.  Some interviewers ask every candidate a set of scripted questions.  While being consistent in what you ask candidates is important, and sometimes a legal requirement, don’t forget that the Q&A format of interviews is largely a pretense to see how a candidate carries him or herself.  Do they show signs of extreme nervousness or do they seem to own the room?  Do they hesitate before answering each question or do they always have a response on the tip of their tongue?  Can they answer questions succinctly and logically, or do they talk and talk before (finally) answering your question?  Once you assess these behaviors, project how they would play out in the role this person is applying for.  If they appear to be unconfident, will that hamper them in their role?  If they are deliberate communicators, will that be problematic?  If they go on and on, will their customers grow impatient?  How the candidate presents is just as important as What they present.

DON’T worry about the clock.  I cringe every time I hear a hiring manager say they really need to fill a position by X date.  This sets them up to make a mediocre hire.  In most cases the manager feels pressure because his/her team is stressed with extra work.  While this stress is real and should be addressed (the boss’s responsibility is to decide what work will NOT be done until a replacement is hired), hiring a candidate that is any less than excellent is short-sighted.  If you hire a mediocre candidate, the extra work your team was struggling with will persist because a mediocre candidate will make a mediocre team member.  An excellent candidate, even if it takes a while to find one, will not only pick up the slack, but lighten the load of everyone else.

DON’T overvalue familiarity.  If you’ve worked with someone before, you certainly know them better than other candidates.  However, we tend to judge less critically those we are familiar with, which can tip the scale in favor of the candidate we know best, not the best candidate for the role.  When people I have worked with before express interest in a job on my team, I tell them candidly (a) whether I feel they are a good fit and (b) that the fact I know them will have no impact on whether or not they are chosen for the role; the best candidate for the job gets it.  Period.

DON’T overvalue institutional knowledge.  Generally this manifests itself when an internal candidate is being considered for a more senior role.  Institutional knowledge requires no special aptitude to learn.  Similarly, institutional knowledge can be a negative trait if you, as the leader, want to establish a different organizational culture.  Assuming that you are happy with the current organizational culture and are considering an internal candidate for a more senior role, I recommend you neither give credit for their institutional knowledge, nor hold it against them.  Judge them on their demonstrable competencies just as you would an external candidate.

DON’T overvalue a candidate for the tools he/she knows.  Knowing a particular tool, software or coding language are often a result of circumstance.  The candidate happened to work at an organization where the tool was used and therefore had to learn it.  This implies very little about the candidate.  Much more important is determining if a candidate has the capacity and interest to learn new tools, software or coding languages.  To determine this, probe for behavioral evidence of traits like curiosity, ongoing self-improvement, and a willingness to ask for help.  Remember that you are hiring for the long-run.  Someone who knows your software may make an impact sooner than someone who has to learn it, but their head start will quickly evaporate.  What you’re left with can either be an expert on a particular software, which time will inevitably pass by, or someone who is adept at learning that tool as well as whatever comes next.  When choosing, be sure to hire the person who demonstrates the capacity for long-term success.

DON’T (necessarily) hire the most talented candidate.  This may sound odd, because we all talk about hiring “the best person.”  Sometimes - albeit rarely - the most talented candidate is not the right choice.  Usually this is because the candidate is overqualified.  Imagine that you were hiring an entry-level Cataloger and the ghost of Melvil Dewey applied for the job.  At first you’d feel incredibly lucky:  “Dewey is alive!  Well, sort of.  And he wants to work for us!  Do ghosts need health care benefits?  Who cares.  I can’t wait to Tweet this.”  Clearly Dewey would be bored stiff after a week of this entry-level work and would move on to another position as soon as he found one, leaving you to start again.  Unless you have a clear and rapid succession path for the overqualified candidate to keep him or her engaged, it’s best to choose someone whose expertise more closely aligns with the role.

In Conclusion 

Talent assessment will never be an exact science; humans on both sides of the interview table are fallible.  The best you can do as a hiring manager is develop best practices of assessing candidates that increase your odds of finding the strongest talent for your organization.  Talent is by no means the only ingredient in building a great team, but it gives the leader a significant advantage.  Watch this space for more thoughts on building a great team.

 

If you'd like to be notified of new blog posts, please sign-up to receive an email notification when a new post is published. 

Posted by Rob

Wouldn’t it be great if you could choose someone else’s New Year’s resolutions?  You could get your boss to try being nicer and more supportive, your kids to earn better grades, your dogs to stop chewing up shoes, or your internet service provider to care.  You’d have the power and they’d have to do the hard work.  Brilliant!  What if I told you that you can decide the New Year’s resolutions of one special something in your life?

In October I shared a survey aimed at understanding how NC LIVE could better serve its member libraries.  This initial survey asked respondents to indicate the services they would most like help with.  The results are in.  Based on 98 respondents submitting 281 requests, the top three services member libraries would like help with are:

  1. Help me implement and/or better utilize technologies I already pay for (50.0%)

  2. Help me purchase products/services from vendors at a reduced price (42.9%)

  3. Help me market my library effectively (40.8%)

NCLA 2015 NC LIVE survey results

Now that we have a broad starting point, we want to delve deeper into these top three areas of need to understand exactly what types of assistance your library would benefit from.  If you took the initial survey, please help us better understand your needs by taking this follow-on survey.  If you did not take the initial survey, that’s okay.  Feel free to jump into the conversation by taking this survey; it’s not too late.

This follow-up survey should take approximately 10 minutes.  We are grateful for your time and input.  Your feedback will help us at NC LIVE know what our New Year’s resolutions will be!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H539B52

Posted by Rob

In the course of my career I’ve encountered many professionals who struggle with self-doubt.  Peers, direct reports, mentees, friends in other fields.  Over time I noticed that the brighter and more talented the individual, the more that individual doubted him or herself.  Initially I simply added this to my running list of life’s ironies, but then I began to think about what made these individuals talented in the first place.  In most cases it wasn’t a manifestation of genius or “natural ability” that set them apart.  Rather, what made them talented was the same thing that caused them to chew their fingernails and struggle through sleepless nights:  Self-doubt. 

If you struggle with self-doubt, congratulations:  You possess a quality that, if wielded properly, will help you be incredibly confident.  Sound crazy?  Read on.

Let’s start with some working definitions:

Bravado - asserting a position with conviction without having conducted a thorough analysis.

Confidence - asserting a position with conviction because you’ve conducted a thorough analysis.

Self-doubt - what separates the two. 

Every scenario demands analysis, from the everyday, like navigating traffic on your way to work, to the life-altering, like choosing a spouse.  At a traffic light you assess whether it’s legal to turn right on red, then whether or not it’s safe.  Then you weigh the risk against the reward.  If you wait a few seconds the light will turn green and you won’t have to worry about getting up to speed in time to avoid onrushing traffic.  But, then again, the driver behind you is glaring.  Nobody enjoys getting honked at.  And let’s not forget the deeper, metaphysical question:  “If I wait for a green light, does it mean I’m getting old?  Am I becoming my mother?”

Our minds analyze and analyze like this all day, every day, about scenarios both simple and complex, benign and dangerous.  At work, we face the same spectrum of scenarios, from how to prioritize today’s To-Do list to what organizational strategy we will recommend to our Board of Directors.

In my traffic light example I listed five factors that required analysis.  Imagine how many factors must be considered to arrive at a strategy for your library, determine how best to reorganize your staff, or how to manage this year’s budget.  There is no denying that analyzing complex, often emotionally charged scenarios can be daunting.  It is tempting to make a choice quickly, often on gut-feel, and move on to other, less complex decisions.  Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize that you’ve shortchanged your analysis.  That is, until you’re standing in front of an audience.  Or your boss.  Or the Board.

Posture versus Posturing

To illustrate self-doubt at work, consider giving a presentation.  We have been taught to present an idea or a position with confidence.  Stand up straight; speak clearly and loud enough to be heard in the back; look the audience in the eye.  This is all sound advice.  But there is something missing, something critically important:  Presenting with confidence is not the result of mastering a set of rhetorical best-practices.  Presenting with confidence is the end-product of a long process of analysis fueled by - you guessed it - self-doubt.

To walk into a room, say your boss’s office, and present a position with conviction without having thoroughly thought it through is a sham and, more often than not, one that will be exposed.  You straighten your posture, use your most authoritative tone, and look the audience in the eye.  But inside you are a bubbling lava flow of nerves.  You dread the questions you know are coming because you don’t have answers.  You feel lightheaded because you realize you’ve been holding your breath.  Literally.  When you’re asked for data to support your recommendation you demur, saying you’ll need to follow-up with that.  At moments like these you swear you’ll never again be so unprepared.

To be legitimately confident, you must first be filled with doubt.

Self-doubt can be a powerful source of energy if harnessed early enough in the process of analysis.  In the weeks leading up to an important presentation or a critical work meeting, self-doubt is your best friend.  Self-doubt is self-analysis.  It is the act of challenging your tentative position, your logic, your assumptions.  It is based on the principle that your first idea is unlikely to be your best.  And, even if your first idea is your best, how can you know it unless you test it against other ideas?  In philosophy Hegel called this dialectics.  In Science it is the scientific method.  In writing it is the nub of an eraser or the struck through sentence.

The beauty of self-doubt at an early state of analysis is that you are working out the kinks in the safety and privacy of your own company, or with a trusted confidant.  You can try out wild ideas, arrive at absurd conclusions, and make blunders of astounding proportions.  It’s your time to make an intellectual mess without judgment.  By the time you are in front of your audience, you will have weighed every pro against every con, considered every implication, and wrestled every potential rebuttal to the ground.  If you’ve put yourself through this type of rigorous self-analysis, nothing your audience can say will surprise you; you’ve already travelled the mental roads they are just now walking down and you know where they lead.

When you are standing there and realize, despite whatever intimidating titles or outsized egos might be in your audience, that you are the most knowledgeable person in the room on this topic because you have done your homework by harnessing the power of self-doubt, the feeling of centeredness and calm that washes over you and lends your voice gravitas and your recommendations the weight of wisdom - that is genuine confidence.  And you owe it all to your self-doubt.

Note:  My initial title for this piece was “On Confidence,” but then I second-guessed myself.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you'd like to be notified of new blog posts, please sign-up to receive an email notification when a new post is published. 

 

Posted by Newsroom
ReferenceUSA

ReferenceUSA now offers weekly webinars on a variety of topics--and these webinars are open to patrons from any NC LIVE member library.

Visit the ReferenceUSA webinar registration page to sign up for one or more of the sessions listed below.

Start, Manage, and Grow Your Business Using ReferenceUSA

Mondays, 3:00 p.m. Eastern (1 Hour)

Entrepreneurs and business owners will learn how to use ReferenceUSA to find the mission-critical information to start, manage, and grow a business. Topics include:

  • Searching for businesses
  • Locating hard-to-find vendors, both locally and nationally
  • Locating subject-matter experts and professional services
  • Finding investors, venture capitalists, and angels
  • Networking with other businesses in your area or industry
  • Developing relationships with related business for cobranding opportunities
  • Understanding community demographics
  • Surveying locations for expansion
  • Conducting competitive analysis
  • Planning delivery routes and service areas
  • Sourcing new employees

ReferenceUSA Consumer and Lifestyle Data

Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. Eastern (1 hour)

Ever wonder how marketers and advertisers ‘target’ specific messages to you? Find out how you access the same type of data for your neighborhood or city. Anyone interested in understanding the purchase preferences of a community will find this data both intriguing and informative. Learn how to navigate this section of ReferenceUSA and then apply the data to your needs.

Uncovering the Hidden Job Market: Career Search Strategies Using ReferenceUSA

Wednesdays, 3:00 p.m. Eastern (1 Hour)

Attendees will learn how to use ReferenceUSA as part of their career searching strategy. Included will be information on the importance of having accurate information for applications and resumes; creating engaging cover letters; assembling a network of references and referrers; finding key persons at a business to act as mentors; building data sets of potential employers based on skill set, work history, and preferences; and preparing for interviews and interactions through research. We will also explore the Jobs & Internship module, which adds a new dimension to job searching.

ReferenceUSA Big Data and Mapping

Thursdays, 3:00 p.m. Eastern (1 hour)

Data visualization is the next BIG thing in data. Going beyond static lists of information, ReferenceUSA can help you visualize data elements on a map. Great for understanding how locations relate to each other or seeing densities within a specific area, the ReferenceUSA mapping tools give you a new and powerful way to better understand the landscape. Learn how to build a map to display results and how to manipulate the mapping tools to your advantage.

ReferenceUSA Search Essentials

Fridays, 12:00 p.m. Eastern (1 hour)

Designed for anyone new to using our database, this hour-long session will cover all the basics of getting started with ReferenceUSA. We will cover the four essentials anyone, particularly those new to ReferenceUSA, will want to know in order to successfully use the resource. This is also be a great opportunity for current users to learn some new tips, tricks, and techniques. Lots of time will be reserved at the end of the session for questions.

 

Posted by Rob

Like many of you, I participated in the NCLA conference last week.  As a first-timer, whatever expectations I brought with me stemmed from recollections of other state conferences I have attended.  At those other state conferences I remember small crowds, grim venues, lackluster, scanty-attended sessions, cliques of old friends roaming in exclusive “packs,” and a general sense that the state conference was a prelude to some other, bigger event, for which the attendees were saving their best.  In short, these weren’t my favorite conferences.

NCLA could not have been more different.  First, the venue:  The Koury Convention Center in Greensboro was elegant, convenient and well appointed.  Second, the planning and organization:  Rodney Lippard and the rest of the NCLA Planning Committee did an extraordinary job putting together an event that was fun, thought provoking, collegial and easy to navigate.  Planning an event like this can often feel like a Sisyphean, thankless job.  Kudos to the Planning Committee for a great success.  Finally, the attendees:  While it was clear that many attendees were excited to meet up with old friends and former colleagues, never did the existing relationships preclude new relationships from forming.  Attendees were welcoming and inclusive, helping us first timers feel comfortable, and they went out of their way to introduce us newbies to longtime NCLA attendees.  NCLA is yet another example of why North Carolina libraries should be proud of their community.

I want to thank the many, many individuals I met who expressed their gratitude for and support of NC LIVE.  The reception I received and the people I met were gracious, lively and inspiring.  We are an organization driven by our members for our members and we could not succeed without your continued support.  Thank you!

NC LIVE was a platinum sponsor of NCLA 2015 and participated in several presentations, as well as hosted a Homegrown author reading and book signing.  If you were not able to attend our sessions in person, you can find copies here.  

In our session “NC LIVE: Past, Present and Future,” I introduced the audience to a brand new organization.  This new organization’s...

  • mission is to help member libraries better support education, enhance economic development, and improve the quality of life of all North Carolinians.
  • values include shared success through collaboration and cooperation.
  • sole purpose is to support North Carolina libraries.
  • status is not-for-profit, and it is staffed by a dedicated, passionate team of librarians right here in North Carolina.
  • future is whatever NC Libraries decide it will be.

Sound familiar?  By now you know I’m talking about NC LIVE, but I hope the temporary sleight-of-hand was useful in getting you to imagine what the future of an organization with as broad a mission as NC LIVE can be, independent of its past.  We used a 1-minute survey to collect the audience’s input and will leave the survey open to anyone in the NC LIVE community through November 20th.  I encourage you to take a minute to vote.

For 17 years NC LIVE has been synonymous with providing e-resources to its member libraries at a significantly reduced rate.  This history is something everyone involved with NC LIVE is proud of, but it can hinder us when considering what our future could be.  Only by forgetting for a moment what NC LIVE has been up to this point and thinking broadly about what NC LIVE could be going forward can we ensure that NC LIVE remains focused on the most pressing needs of our member libraries.

....................................

If you have not yet signed up to receive email notifications of my monthly blog posts, please sign-up to be notified when a new post is published.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me at rob@nclive.org, LinkIn with me, or, if you see me at an event, please introduce yourself.

Posted by Rob

Dear NC LIVE Community,

I’m Rob Ross, the new Executive Director of NC LIVE.  I could not be happier to join an organization as impactful as NC LIVE and to serve a library community as revered as that of North Carolina.  I want to use this space to tell you a little about myself.

Who I am

My professional bio can be found online, so I won’t duplicate that here.  Instead, I’ll share a few personal tidbits so that, when you see me in person, you’ll have no shortage of conversation starters--

  • I am from Akron, Ohio and am the youngest of four children. 
  • My wife and I own and spoil three tiny dogs (Italian Greyhound, Miniature Pinscher and Mutt). 
  • I am food-obsessed, planning most weekends around where to eat.
  • I love to travel, a few favorite spots being Sintra, Portugal, Lyon, France and Taos, New Mexico.
  • I am in the process of (slowly) restoring my second vintage car, a 1960 Jaguar MK2.
  • I am a soccer nerd, so much so that I take scouting notes while watching matches to record each player’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • I have something of an obsession with a properly made old-fashioned cocktail.  If you know where I can get one in the Triangle, please let me know.

Where I come from

I began my career working in academic libraries, where I focused on Resource Sharing.  But for the past 8+ years I worked at OCLC, where I had the privilege to learn how a 20,000+ library membership organization operates.  During that time I was lucky enough to have some wonderful mentors who provided me opportunities to learn a broad array of business skills that I am now utilizing in my work on behalf of NC LIVE member libraries.

At OCLC I built programs to help libraries of all types successfully implement new technologies.  I especially enjoyed this role because working with libraries during an implementation provides a window into their culture, management style and attitudes toward change.  Implementations - even well-intentioned and well-planned ones - are stressors and, as such, bring to the surface all sorts of interesting dynamics.  I felt incredibly fortunate, in my position, to be able to see the inner workings of so many libraries.  My role as “outsider” provided me a unique vantage point from which to spot common trends in libraries, both good and bad.

One lesson I learned is that libraries are far more similar than they are different, even when they serve different user communities.  Patrons seek information and librarians, among many other things, help them find information as well as make their own.  This fundamental role transcends all nuances.  What’s more, libraries often utilize the same systems, content and services in helping patrons, giving them yet more in common.  While it’s easy to get hung up on the idiosyncrasies that make each of our libraries different, we have far more in common than not.

Another lesson I learned is that libraries can accomplish more together than they can alone.  It was our practice at OCLC to place implementing libraries into cohorts so that they could capitalize on the expertise and generosity of their peers to find the best solutions for their library.  Initially, libraries of different stripes expressed doubt as to whether or not they could learn (or teach) much from their new cohort-mates.  Inevitably, over the course of their implementation, these libraries found common ground, discovered resident expertise across the cohort, and formed mutually beneficial and sometimes unlikely partnerships with other libraries.  When a cohort jelled, it demonstrated how the power of individual libraries can be exponentially amplified through collaboration.

Why NC LIVE?

One of the first observations I made during the interview process was that NC LIVE’s members are incredibly engaged in its day-to-day operations.  I was able to meet several members of the working committees, who were kind enough to provide brief synopses of their current projects, and I was bowled over not only by the talent on display, but the level of commitment and sense of ownership committee members demonstrated.  It was evident that NC LIVE depends upon its members not only to set strategic direction, but also to carry out the work required to execute that strategy.  No doubt this grassroots approach ensures that NC LIVE acts in the best interests of its members.  For if we strayed, you all would quickly notice and set us straight!

While most other consortia are bound by the demographic they serve, limiting the efficiencies of scale they can realize, NC LIVE consists of four distinct Communities of Interest (COIs), yet acts as one entity in order to provide the broadest array of e-resources at the best cost for North Carolinians.  But operating as one entity across the state has other advantages as well.  Consider the lifecycle of a North Carolinian patron.  A grade school student discovers NC LIVE resources at her public library while working on a school science project about how rockets work.  Years later, as a community college student, she uses Occupational Outlook via NC LIVE to select a major.  A few years later at university she again relies on NC LIVE content to finish her senior capstone on urban renewal.  As an adult, this same woman returns to NC LIVE resources to research a medical condition, start a business, and plan for retirement.  It is truly powerful to work on behalf of an organization that enriches the lives of so many people at every stage of their development.

During the interview process, I took a closer look at the mission statement of NC LIVE:  “NC LIVE helps member libraries to better support education, enhance economic development, and improve the quality of life of all North Carolinians.”  I was struck by the enormous potential of NC LIVE to build on its accomplishments over the past 17 years of bringing e-resources to the citizens of North Carolina.  What more can NC LIVE do to fulfill its mission?  What programs, resources, services, partnerships, initiatives, etc. can NC LIVE and its members launch to make an even more significant impact on its communities?

What to expect

I’ve learned from other leaders that the wisest course in the first months in a new role is to ask questions, listen, and learn.  With this in mind, in the coming months I have three priorities:

    To engage with NC LIVE member libraries.  I want to meet NC LIVE member libraries so I can begin to understand your library’s most pressing challenges, what you value about NC LIVE today, and what you feel NC LIVE can help you accomplish in the future.

    To help tell the story of NC LIVE with you.  What the members of NC LIVE have accomplished over the past 17 years is incredible and inspiring.  Telling the stories of how NC LIVE has impacted the citizens of North Carolina is a critical means of sustaining (and increasing) support for NC LIVE.

    To grow NC LIVE.  The achievements of NC LIVE in the area of e-resources are impressive.  But libraries have many other areas of need and, as a library membership organization with a broad mission, NC LIVE is well-positioned to help meet those needs.  Growth could take the form of new or expanded services, membership growth, or new strategic partnerships.  Ultimately, how NC LIVE grows will be up to its members - you all. 

Watch this space

My intention is to use this space to engage with the NC LIVE community.  I can’t predict exactly what I will write about, but it’s safe to say that I’ll be sharing my observations as I get to know you all, I’ll be soliciting your input on ideas for new initiatives, and I’ll be discussing library leadership topics of interest.  I’ll also be taking requests.  If you have a topic you’d like my thoughts on, please let me know.

IMPORTANT:  Going forward, this blog will be opt-in only.  So, if you are interested in following along, please sign-up to receive an email notification when a new post is published. 

Final thoughts

I look forward to meeting you, learning more about your library and its challenges, and identifying what NC LIVE can do to help.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me at rob@nclive.org, LinkIn with me, or, if you see me at an event, please introduce yourself.  For those attending the NCLA Conference, I hope to see you there!

We are more similar than we are different, and we can continue to accomplish more together than alone. 


Posted by Newsroom
OneSource

An enhanced interface is coming to Recorded Books OneClick Digital! This new interface will make it easier than ever to browse or search for your favorite digital audio content, including a swipe-able interface for browsing on your tablet or smartphone.

Recorded Books will install upgrades to the OneClick Digital website on February 10th, 2015 at 11 p.m. Users may be unable to access the resource for a short time during the installation. A notification will be placed on the resource site during this downtime.

The interface enhancements will include:

  • A new look and feel
  • Mobile-friendly design for easy navigation on a tablet or smartphone
  • Quick and easy browsing
  • Multiple search options to help you find exactly the kind of content you are looking for
  • And more!

 Please contact your library staff with questions.

Posted by Newsroom

Patrons of all NC LIVE member libraries now have access to Pronunciator Language Learning.

Learn a new language with Pronunciator

NC LIVE signed a deal to be able to provide this language learning tool from January 2015 through December 2017, and it is now available to be used by library patrons across the state.

About Pronunciator

Pronunciator provides interactive, self-paced language learning for 80 languages and ESL for 50 non-English languages. This resource includes audio lessons, interactive textbooks, quizzes, intelligent flashcards, phrasebooks and pronunciation analysis. Note: Users must create their own login to access the resource and track their progress.

Pronunciator requires a web browser with JavaScript enabled and Flash version 10.0 or higher. Users can also access the resource with an iOS or Android tablet or phone. User manuals are available within the resource.

Posted by Newsroom

NC LIVE is pleased to announce the final installment in the 2014 Morningstar Investment Research Center financial literacy webinar series, “Give Your Portfolio a Checkup.”

On December 11th, Christine Benz, Morningstar’s Director of Personal Finance, will help your patrons re-evaluate their portfolios and search for new opportunities for heading into the New Year.  Christine will talk about how to give your current portfolio a check-up and take corrective actions to fix. She will close the presentation by answering questions from the audience.

Click on one of the links below to register for the "Give Your Portfolio a Checkup" webinar:

December 11, 6:00 PM (EST)

December 11, 7:30 PM (EST)

This event is part of Morningstar's series of live web sessions on investment topics hosted by Morningstar’s financial professionals. Morningstar, a comprehensive online investing database that provides independent opinions and data on more than 30,000 stocks and mutual funds, is available to all library patrons across the state of North Carolina via NC LIVE. Morningstar invites all library patrons to participate in these free workshops.  Patrons have full access to the series and the option to replay the presentations.

Posted by Newsroom

Have you explored the Home Grown eBook Collection? With more than 1,200 titles from North Carolina publishers, it may be difficult to choose which one you want to read first. Our Collection Spotlight posts will periodically feature recommendations from library staff, highlighting titles they have enjoyed or that are popular with the patrons at their library. For this edition of Spotlight we're featuring eBooks recommended by NC LIVE Staff.

125 Brain Games for Babies

125 Brain Games for Babies by Jackie Silberg and Keith Pentz

Published by Gryphon House, Inc.

Recommended by Jill Morris, Assistant Director, NC LIVE

This book is a new parent's best friend. It's packed full of simple ideas and hands-on activities that are backed by the latest brain research on how to play and teach your baby new skills at the same time. These common-sense suggestions help you remember that everything is new to babies, and that learning is a fun activity to experience together. A great quick reference for parents of infants up to a year old, that you can flip through any time you need some parenting inspiration. Also check out 125 Brain Games for Toddlers and Twos.

The Successful Gardener Guide

The Successful Gardener Guide North Carolina edited by Leah Chester-Davis & Toby Bost

Published by John F. Blair

Recommended by Heather Greer Klein, Member Services Librarian, NC LIVE

This book is packed with 10 years of articles from the NC Extension’s Successful Gardener newsletter. Everyone from beginners to Master Gardeners will appreciate the scientifically sound and region-specific advice, covering everything from pest management to the best performing plants from the mountains to the sea. A great book for gardening clubs!

The Hinterlands: A Mountain Tale in Three Parts

The Hinterlands: A Mountain Tale in Three Parts by Robert Morgan

Published by Algonquin Books

Recommended by Sarah Dooley, Web & UX Development Librarian, NC LIVE

Written by North Carolina poet and novelist Robert Morgan, this novel tells the story of three generations of a family living on the Appalachian frontier in the 18th and 19th century. Each section is told in the distinctive voice of a different family member, and the events of the narrative are based on stories handed down through Morgan's family. A memorable read--I remember first reading this book when it originally came out, and am excited to see it in the Home Grown collection!

Searching for Virginia Dare:  On the Trail of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island

Searching for Virginia Dare: On the Trail of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island by Marjorie Hudson

Published by Press 53

Recommended by Emily Guhde, Online Services Librarian, NC LIVE

Enchanted by the mysterious circumstances of Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, Marjorie Hudson shares her exploration of North Carolina folklore and archival records in search of the truth . . . or at least a good story! In this engaging history-mystery, Hudson frames historical details and local legends with her own personal and moving journey into the past. It's the perfect book to hold on to the last moments of summer, remembering a drive across Croatan Sound, a sign pointing to the birthplace of Virginia Dare, and an unshakeable feeling that our state's most famous unsolved mystery is more fun without all the answers.

Connect with us!

twitter Facebook  YouTube